A bit more removed from pure politics than the previous entries, this is another of the Wheel of Time that moves markedly towards Tarmon Gai’don.
I do enjoy the series, but it is nice that the Ebou Dar story line coming to a close is really enjoyable to me. I know a lot of people seem to like Mat, heavily featured in the Ebou Dari story, for some reason (being an irresponsible gambler whose only really notable contribution to the overall plot being that he is the pattern’s bitch), but I just… Sorry. Glad that’s over, personally.
The pacing in this book is better, and I think Robert Jordan actually has a certain amount of plot, very evenly rationed, for each book. The pacing seems faster in this book because it is the shortest in the series, but I can only hope that soon… Soon I will be out of the middling books and into the true lead up to Tarmon Gai’don.
Reading this in one giant binge, taking my free time away from doing anything else and spending it on this series is definitely a different experience than some of my friends who read the books as they came out have reported. A sprint versus a long distance race, I suppose, and those who read them as they came could pace themselves, hit a runner’s high. I am in a 400m race, in the most difficult books in the series (as far as readers who gave up on them), and I power on.
Unlike books 6 and 7, there is a lot of action going on in The Path of Daggers, though some of it is action whose consequence and outcome you won’t find out for a very long time yet. I think that is an interesting thing, and something that is more common in today’s fantasy writing than it used to be; comparing this overarching plot and less rigid structure to something like The Sword of Truth is an odd exercise. Each book in The Sword of Truth was its own standalone work, and while there was an overarching antagonist, each book could be read on its own.
As nearly as I can tell, reading any book in The Wheel of Time as a standalone work is just… Well, it is a ridiculous idea, and something that would never really work out. Anyone who has been reading all of these reviews (all both of you) probably realize I am less reviewing any single book than I am reviewing the series to date, and I haven’t figured out if there is anything I can do about that.
As far as how engaging each thread of the plot is during The Path of Daggers, there are definitely some great stories that are woven throughout the pages of Book 8. The character growth in the Aes Sedai quartet of Elayne, Aviendha, Nunaeve, and Egwene is a little bit negligible. It is almost expected that they will show why they are Aes Sedai (hint: They will follow tradition right into the Pit of Doom) from book to book, and I will never be surprised by their lack of growth. Oh, they change, but they continue to make the decisions that have defined their weaknesses.
Perrin continues to slowly, slowly mold to his required role, a blacksmith in form and metaphor. The pattern pounds him into the shape it needs, and it is heart wrenching to read at times. Many who have read before me note that Perrin is one of the most boring characters to read because his personality is so predictable–but for me in general, and even more than normal throughout this book, his continues to be incredibly engaging as you watch a man have everything he holds dear ripped away from him for the greater good.
Rand again takes one clearly marked step towards his ultimate destiny, and that is the closest the series comes to a regimented plot; Something major happens at the end of each book as far as “The Road to Tarmon Gai’don”, and then the next book is dealing with the fallout. This book takes it a little further, in that two major plots resolve from Rand’s perspective, something that makes me (again) want to dive into the next book head first. And perhaps that is the ultimate strength of the series; I care about the characters enough to keep reading, even if the plot doesn’t care.
That might not make sense unless you have read the books, which I am hoping you do.
And so we continue on down this path. Only five more full books to go, for those following along.
The Path of Daggers
Rand's Storyline - 9/10
Perrin's Storyline - 7/10
Aes Sedai Trio; Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha - 5/10
Egwene - 6/10
History - 6/10
Overarching Plot - 6/10
Other Characters - 6/10
Climax (I liked the book overall, so need to balance the score a bit) - 10/10
Moving slightly away from the slowness of the preceding books, The Path of Daggers is short and much quicker than I have come to expect from this series. Several major plot threads come to conclusions, opening new paths forward–a very appreciated change.